Visual Art in Western MA: May Openings, Closings & Calls for Art

Visual Art in Western MA:
May Openings, Closings & Calls for Art

Explore Western MA through the lens of visual art! Featured here are May art openings, closings & call for art at galleries, museums and public meeting places across the region, including:  Norman Rockwell Museum,  Yiddish Book Center,  Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art,  Hancock Shaker Village,  Neil Hammer Gallery at Meekins Library, Easthampton City Hall Gallery,  Smith College Museum of Art,  Mount Holyoke College Art Museum, and other locations. Read the rest of this entry »

Museum Adventures: Emily Dickinson Museum

Step into Emily Dickinson’s World

Bee! I’m expecting you!
Was saying Yesterday
To Somebody you know
That you were due –

The Frogs got Home last Week –
Are settled, and at work –
Birds mostly back –
The Clover warm and thick –

You’ll get my Letter by
The Seventeenth; Reply
Or better, be with me –
Your’s, Fly.
Fr. 983

This poem by Emily Dickinson was written in 1865 during the most productive period of her writing life. By the time she turned 35 that year, she had produced more than 1,100 of the 1,789 poems we know of today.  Read the rest of this entry »

Intergenerational Drawing Events Support Creative Free Play & Community Connections

Community Drawing Events Inspire Creative Free Play and Self Expression

Creative free play and artistic expression are the focus of two very unique upcoming community events. Using drawing as a central element, these events illuminate the versatility and expressive potential of the art form. Accessible to self-identified artists, reluctant creators, and everyone in between, spring’s artistic opportunities offer rich community-based learning opportunities relating to creativity and self-expression.  Read the rest of this entry »

Visual Art in Western MA: April Openings, Closings & Calls for Art

Visual Art in Western MA:
April Openings, Closings & Calls for Art

DRAW THEM IN: A Rock Poster Retrospective
Bingo! Gallery at Shire City Sanctuary
April 1, 2016 through April 30, 2016
For 21 years Dan Blakeslee’s mysterious rock posters have been hanging on record store windows, telephone poles and cafe walls. Every bulletin board becomes a gallery, transporting the viewer into his wondrous, strange landscape. He is also the artist behind “Heady Topper” and “Focal Banger” beer labels for The Alchemist Brewing Company. This groundbreaking exhibit, DRAW THEM IN: A Rock Poster Retrospective at the Shire City Sanctuary, will showcase 100 of Dan Blakeslee’s work spanning two decades. Off kilter and whimsical, his pen becomes an acrobat, bombarding each page with expressive line and type. The artwork can be iconic, conjuring up new, bizarre creatures of the old forms, with a nod to Art Nouveau, Art Deco, and Fillmore poster artists. Viewers will delight in the masterful blending of art and music woven throughout the work of a brilliant local artist. The exhibit runs April 1, 2016 through April 30, 2016 in the Bingo! Gallery at Shire City Sanctuary. 413-236-9600. 40 Melville Street, Pittsfield, MA. (FREE)

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Rock Poster Retrospective: Merging Music & Visual Art Studies

DRAW THEM IN: A Rock Poster Retrospective
Bingo! Gallery at Shire City Sanctuary
April 1, 2016 through April 30, 2016

For 21 years Dan Blakeslee‘s mysterious rock posters have been hanging on record store windows, telephone poles and cafe walls. Every bulletin board becomes a gallery, transporting the viewer into his wondrous, strange landscape. He is also the artist behind “Heady Topper” and “Focal Banger” beer labels for The Alchemist Brewing Company.

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This groundbreaking exhibit, DRAW THEM IN: A Rock Poster Retrospective at the Shire City Sanctuary, will showcase 100 of Dan Blakeslee’s work spanning two decades. Off kilter and whimsical, his pen becomes an acrobat, bombarding each page with expressive line and type. The artwork can be iconic, conjuring up new, bizarre creatures of the old forms, with a nod to Art Nouveau, Art Deco, and Fillmore poster artists. Viewers will delight in the masterful blending of art and music woven throughout the work of a brilliant local artist.

The exhibit runs April 1, 2016 through April 30, 2016 in the Bingo! Gallery. An art opening and concert on Friday, April 1 with thee gallery opening at 5pm and the concert beginning at 7pm.

Gallery at Shire City Sanctuary. 413-236-9600. 40 Melville Street, Pittsfield, MA. (FREE)

Quilting Offers Multidisciplinary Exploration of Math and Art

Quilting Offers Multidisciplinary Exploration of Math and Art

Often, math and art are seen as opposites: structure and the lack thereof. At the intersection of the two, however, lies quilting: an art form that is inherently mathematical. Families can explore everything from shape identification to tessellations by learning to create quilts together!

Art and math are often seen as being disconnected and opposite from one another: one offering structure and systematic methods, and the other following no predetermined procedures and adhering to no rules. The two are, however, very closely linked and by finding the overlap between creativity and mathematical concepts, families can discover context for and the purpose of some of math’s big ideas.

Quilting offers a fantastic creative entry point for learning math at any age or level. Impossible without basic geometry concepts, quilting involves a great deal of math. The most obvious and easily accessible math topic to explore through quilting is geometry, as all quilts are designed and created based on a complex pattern whose roots lie in the properties of the shapes of the pieces from which it is made. Quilting does, of course, require some sewing skills, but as long as you can sew in a straight line, you can make a quilt. Read the rest of this entry »

Museum Adventures: Hampshire College Art Gallery

Students Work is Center Stage at Hampshire College Art Gallery

Hampshire College opened in 1970, along with an art gallery in its library building designed to give students an opportunity to present their work and enjoy exhibitions of local, national, and international artists. Though it is primarily a teaching space, the gallery has become a great place to experience edgy, engaging works by both well known and lesser-known artists.

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Visual Art in Western MA: March Openings, Closings & Calls for Art

Visual Art in Western MA:
March Openings, Closings & Calls for Art

BerkshireNow: Stephen Dietemann
Berkshire Museum
March 5, 2016 through May 22, 2016

This innovative exhibition will feature the art of architect Stephen Dietemann, along with that of three photographers who have documented Dietemann’s architectural work. The artist has been designing award-winning, energy-conscious, sustainable, contemporary residences in the Berkshires since 2002. He places emphasis on creating homes that not only work on, but enhance, challenging sites. As Dietemann notes, the completed work of architects, especially those who design residences, is rarely seen by more than a few individuals; thus architecture is primarily shared through photography. BerkshireNow: Stephen Dietemann at the Berkshire Museum explores the essential symbiotic relationship between the architect and the photographers who capture and interpret his work. Viewers have the rare opportunity to view how photography captures the “soul” of a building, that which lies just beneath the mechanical and physical surfaces of the final structure, which would otherwise remain largely hidden. The exhibit will be on display from March 5, 2016 through May 22, 2016 at the Berkshire Museum. 413-443-7171. 39 South Street, Pittsfield, MA. (FREE W/ADMISSION)

Magician of the Modern: The Art of Leonard Weisgard
The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art
March 8, 2016 through June 5, 2016

Leonard Weisgard was the first American illustrator to bring the new visual language of modernism to the picture book. As a young boy, Weisgard found himself disinterested in the sentimental realism found in illustrations of that time. His thought that the world “could not be limited to only one color” sparked his interest in developing a more dynamic and playful approach to visual art. In a career spanning six decades, Leonard Weisgard used his whimsical, semi-abstract style to create illustrations in over 200 children’s books including Cinderella (1939), The Golden Egg Book (1947), and The Funny Bunny Factory (1950), among others. At The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, Magician of the Modern: The Art of Leonard Weisgard will feature 90 original illustrations representing every major phase of his career, including the public debut of twenty seminal paintings recently restored by The Carle. The exhibit will also feature the artist’s drawing table, a sampling of his art materials, archival photographs, and examples of Weisgard’s New Yorker and other editorial and commercial art. Using various mediums, including paint, crayon, chalk, gouache, pen, and ink, Leonard Weisgard was able to coax his characters and scenery to life through color and creativity. This visual experience will take viewers on a journey through Weisgard’s vibrant career, and the ways in which he revolutionized illustration in children’s literature. The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art. 413-658-1100. 125 West Bay Road, Amherst, MA (FREE W/MUSEUM ADMISSION)

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Goshen Rocks! Teen Initiated Arts Expo Comes to the Hilltowns.

Goshen Rocks: Youth Arts Expo Empowers Teen Artists through a Collaborative Network

Teens in western Massachusetts have outstanding skills, knowledge, and creativity to offer to the world! Celebrate their interests and accomplishments at Goshen Rocks: Youth Arts Expo, a collaborative showcase of music, poetry and visual art – all created and performed by local teens!

The Arts Expo is organized through a collaboration between Graffiti Cat Zine and People to Watch: The Next Generation – both are teen initiated arts-based resources that build creative community by connecting local teens with community venues and outlets for sharing their work. In keeping with this mission, Goshen Rocks offers the first event of its kind to western Massachusetts: not only does the expo combine visual, written, and musical creative work, it is the first community-based teen-specific creative event of its kind.

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Community-Based Resource Support Art History: The Clark

Little-known Work by Eugène Delacroix on View at Clark Art Institute

Eugène Delacroix (French, 1798–1863), The Martyrdom of Saint Sulpicius, c. 1847-50. Private Collection. Photo courtesy Clark Art Institute.

The Martyrdom of Saint Sulpicius (c. 1847-50) is a little-known but magnificent oil study by French artist Eugène Delacroix, which was displayed only once in 1930.

“One of the great things about being a curator is having the opportunity to encounter and study works of art that haven’t been widely known or exhibited to the public, and in turn to be able to share this knowledge with a larger audience. Delacroix’s The Martyrdom of Saint Sulpicius is one of those wonderful opportunities. There is a great deal to be learned and shared about a work like this that is quite exciting, and gives you the sense that you are unraveling a mystery of sorts,” said Lara Yeager-Crasselt, the Clark’s interim curator of paintings and sculpture.

“Art history is often thought of as being a static discipline—learning the dates of paintings and recognizing artists—but it is extraordinary in the way that it remains a living, breathing discipline that engages the objects themselves as much as the historical and cultural contexts that shaped them, in their own time and in their history thereafter. There are always challenges inherent in that pursuit and this painting is a wonderful example of that kind of challenge.”

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Norman Rockwell’s Civil Rights Era Works on Google Cultural Institute

Norman Rockwell Museum Shares Norman Rockwell’s Civil Rights Era Works on Google Cultural Institute

“Most people view Norman Rockwell as synonymous with American ideals, yet few are aware of his later career shift to illustrate human rights issues,” says Norman Rockwell Museum’s Director of Digital Engagement and Learning, Rich Bradway.

In celebration of Black History Month, Norman Rockwell Museum has partnered with Google to share artworks and artifacts from its permanent collection, that illustrate Norman Rockwell’s dedication to civil rights. Available through the Google Cultural Institute website, “Norman Rockwell In The Age of the Civil Rights Movement” presents Rockwell’s paintings, rarely seen studies, reference photos, and correspondence relating to his important works created during the period; the online exhibition joins over 4000 new items –including 80 exhibits and three expeditions—that document different moments throughout African American history.

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Visual Art in Western MA: February Openings, Closings & Calls for Art

Visual Art in Western MA:
February Openings, Closings & Calls for Art

Heath Seniors Painting Exhibit
Heath Free Public Library
Currently on view

The Heath Seniors Painting Exhibit at the Heath Free Public Library will feature more than twenty paintings. These beautiful works of art were created by senior Heath residents this past fall during Open Art Studio sessions in the Heath Senior Center. Both the display and the opening Artists’ Reception offer a unique opportunity to connect across generations. Each senior artist brings rich history and experience to their art, providing a platform for the development of community relationships and learning through storytelling. This creates a mutually beneficial experience, helping children strengthen their sense of place through the building of intergenerational relationships. Heath Free Public Library. 413-337-4934. 1 East Main Street, Heath, MA. (FREE)

Berkshire Now: Peter Gordon
Berkshire Museum
On view through February 21, 2016

This solo show of collages and paintings by Peter Gordon offers a powerful reminder of how our use of natural resources, goods, and services impact the environment. Using a contrast of natural and man-made elements, Berkshire Now: Peter Gordon at the Berkshire Museum emphasizes the fragility of the ecosystem in the context of modern society. In vivid collages, Gordon uses clippings of prices, sales slogans, and real estate offerings as the backdrops for animals, out of place in their now unfamiliar territory. Gordon hopes that his work will encourage viewers to make and promote environmentally conscious decisions in their daily lives. The exhibit is on display now through February 21, 2016 at the Berkshire Museum. 413-443-7171. 39 South Street, Pittsfield, MA. (FREE W/ADMISSION)

Jan Ruby-Crystal
Hope & Feathers Framing and Gallery
On view through February 27, 2016

This exhibition of paintings and handmade paper considers themes of life and decomposition as viewed through close visual studies. Jan Ruby-Crystal at Hope & Feathers Gallery displays thoughtful paintings of fruits and vegetables as they decompose, exploring how their patterns and shape changes through the process. The artist offers a transformative perspective as she shows how the decayed pulp can be converted into handmade paper. As the artist notes, “A new beauty arising from their end.” Hope & Feathers Framing and Gallery. 413-835-0197. 319 Main Street, Amherst, MA. (FREE)

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Put Some STE(A)M into Your Valentines!

Put Some STE(A)M into Your Valentines!

This Valentine’s Day, spread friendship and kindness throughout your community by participating in Hilltown Families’ 8th annual Handmade Valentine Swap! Participation is easy – all you have to do is sign up, make ten handmade valentines and drop them in the mail, and you’ll receive ten handmade cards in return. Not only is the event an opportunity for families to connect with others in their community, participation allows families the opportunity to be creative together – an activity that can lead not only to creative-free play, but can also offer hands-on learning in fields like physics, chemistry, geometry and cultural studies!  Read on…

Sidewalk Chalk Art in Downtown Northampton

Northampton Chalk Art Festival

Many children have used sidewalk chalk to create drawings, make hopscotch boards, or write notes and signs. When fine artists take to the sidewalks with their own ideas, the materials and setting are still very relatable for–and interesting to– kids, even if the products are quite different. The artists of this year’s Northampton Chalk Art Festival on Friday, September 11, everyone is invited to observe as they create new masterpieces on the sidewalks downtown.

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Watching these artists at work provides opportunities to learn about different techniques, perspective, proportion, and expressing ideas through art.  Read the rest of this entry »

Using Community Resources to Support and Inspire an Interest is Art

Local Resources Support Community-Based Studies of Art

Park Hill Orchard in Easthampton is home of “Art in the Orchard,” an orchard-based gallery of outdoor sculptures and installation art to peruse with family. Bringing “Culture into Horticulutre,” the orchard features the work of 28 artists whose work is brought to life amongst the apple trees and changing landscape as we move from summer to fall.

Art is ever-present in life, and serves as an important means of communication and self-expression. Much of childhood is spent adding art to the world, and there is much to learn from exploring art and engaging in methods of creation!

Resources abound for learning about everything from art history to art materials, and here in western Massachusetts, the bulk of art-related learning resources are community-based.

From websites to studios to community organizations, there are endless ways for families to learn about and engage in the arts… and we have a great list for you!  Read the rest of this entry »

DownStreet Art Promotes Community Engagement in the Arts in the Northern Berkshires

DownStreet Art Promotes Community Engagement in the Arts in the Northern Berkshires

Previously in our series spotlighting arts-based community organizations, we featured Easthampton City Arts+ , Pittsfield’s 3rd Thursdays, Turners Falls RiverCulture, and Holyoke’s Gateway City Arts, all of which support a community’s cultural identify. Across western Massachusetts, many communities have become havens for artists of all kinds. The area is chock-full of painters, photographers, sculptors, potters, performers, and other creative types, their work saturating our communities with artistic expression in a wide variety of mediums. Connecting these artists and their work to the the rest of the community are arts organizations, which serve as valuable resources for connecting families with events and community-based learning opportunities.

This month, we feature DownStreet Art, an arts organization in North Adams that works to facilitate dialog between the local community and the arts, with the goal of creating social and economic capital as a result. A town formerly dependent on industry, North Adams has seen a rise in the role of the arts in the city community – a change that has helped the city to increase in both tourism and resident participation in community events. Following, largely, the establishment of the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (Mass MoCA), the northern Berkshires have seen a rise in the role of the arts in the local community, and since its founding in 2008, DownStreet Art has connected over 100,000 people with arts-based events in North Adams’ downtown district, helping to fuel the cultural resurgence that brings the city to life.  Read the rest of this entry »

Illustration History: Online Educational Resource & Archive for the Art of Illustration

Online Resource Provides Close-Up Look at the Art of Illustration

All children are familiar with illustrations, even if just from noticing an illustrator’s name noted on the cover of a favorite picture book. Illustration as an art form encompasses much more than images for children’s books; the art of illustration includes the creation of images for everything from advertisements to comic books. Using the Norman Rockwell Museum’s newest online resource, Illustration History, families can learn about the numerous forms of illustration, notable illustrators, and the connections between the art of illustration and history, culture, economics, and technology.

Launched just recently, Illustration History serves as both an educational resource and an archive, broadening the possibilities for learning with an extensive database of images and information about artists and illustration history. Read the rest of this entry »

3rd Thursday Celebrates Pittsfield Arts Community

Arts & Cultural Showcase Connects Community to Each Other

The City of Pittsfield Office of Cultural Development is revitalizing 3rd Thursday, the largest free outdoor event series in the Berkshires, and taking the festival back to the street for its ninth season!

Previously in our series spotlighting arts-based community organizations, we featured Easthampton City Arts+ and Turners Falls RiverCulture, both of which support a community’s cultural identify. Across western Massachusetts, many communities have become havens for artists of all kinds. The area is chock-full of painters, photographers, sculptors, potters, performers, and other creative types, their work saturating our communities with artistic expression in a wide variety of mediums. Connecting these artists and their work to the the rest of the community are arts organizations, which serve as valuable resources for connecting families with events and community-based learning opportunities.

This month, our focus moves to the Berkshires, where the city of Pittsfield’s 3rd Thursdays is about to kick off its 9th season of arts- and culture-based community events. A project of the city’s Office of Cultural Development, 3rd Thursdays celebrate all that the city has to offer, combing art, performance, food, and local culture to create exciting and engaging events that bring community members together in the heart of the city to learn and connect.  Read the rest of this entry »

Hilltown Draw-Around Unleashes Creative Free-Play!

Interactive Event & Workshops Invites Community to Make its Mark

Draw all over the walls (and the floor and the tables) at the Art Garden’s first annual 12-hour Hilltown Draw Around! Creative types of all ages are invited to participate in art making, community-building, and creative free play all day long!

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to draw all over a room? The Art Garden is offering families exactly that opportunity! The first annual Hilltown Draw Around is a 12-hour interactive community art-making extravaganza held in a paper-covered gymnasium. Families can drop by between 12noon and midnight on Saturday, April 11th for a day filled with drawing workshops, community building, creative free play, and endless opportunities to draw anything and everything. And it’s not just for self-proclaimed artists – anyone and everyone is welcome to come and explore the creative materials available and make their own mark on the event.

A variety of volunteer-lead workshops throughout the day offer participants opportunities to learn new drawing-related skills or to participate in special projects – and many workshops use drawing as an entry point for interdisciplinary learning. A mathematical drawing workshop will teach participants about fractals, geometry, and the Golden Ratio, while a synesthesia-based drawing experience will help participants make connections between spoken language, color, and art, as well as teaching about the cognitive phenomenon that is synesthesia. Read the rest of this entry »

Millennium Project in Pioneer Valley Integrates Art with Citizen Scientists

Exhibition to Document Next Millennium of Climate Change in History’s Slowest Photograph

Formed 200 million years ago in the Late Triassic and boasting hundreds of distinct microclimates, the Holyoke Range is a site selected to document the transformation of the environment over the next 1,000 years.
This spring, the Mead Art Museum at Amherst College will install a camera, designed by experimental philosopher and Amherst College graduate Jonathon Keats, that will take a millennium-long photograph of the evolving landscape. The museum will unveil the photograph in the summer of 3015. Prior to the camera’s installation at the Mead, it will be it will be on display in the exhibition Jonathon Keats: Photographing Deep Time, on view April 15 through May 31, 2015.

What will the landscape of the Pioneer Valley look like a millennium from now? The Mead Art Museum and artist Jonathon Keats are determined to find out. As part of an exhibition of Keats’ work, the museum will install a special camera that will take a 1,000-year-long photograph tracking the changes in the local landscape over the next millennium.

Created using the basic design for a pinhole camera, the Millennium Camera will use oil paint and the light that enters the camera through a tiny hole in order to create an exposure that will reflect changes in Amherst’s landscape over time. Mounted at the top of the Stearns Steeple, the camera will get something a bit like a bird’s eye view of its surroundings. In 3015, the image created by the camera will be unveiled and viewed by a community living in a very different world than today’s.

The exhibit that marks the camera’s start is titled Photographing Deep Time, and will showcase Keats’ other work in deep time photography, including a 100-year photographic survey of the changing cityscape of Berlin. Rather than being focused on the end result of any image, Keats’ deep photography process is focused on connecting photograph viewers with the changes that take place over time that, together, create the final product.

Older students and adults wishing to hear more about the monumental project and Keats’ artistic process can attend an artist conversation at the Mead Art Museum from 2-3pm on Wednesday, April 15th. Photographing Deep Time will be on display at the museum through May 31st, providing families with the opportunity to explore the intersection of art, science, and the future’s history. This Wednesday afternoon event is free and open to the public and is part of the Arts at Amherst Spring Festival.

The Mead will also produce 100 pinhole cameras, each with a 100-year exposure time, for the public to hide somewhere in the Pioneer Valley, invisibly monitoring changes in the surrounding landscape between now and 2115. The cameras will be available at the Mead for $5 each and will come with a registration card for visitors to document their camera’s location. Participating families can join is a art-based citizen scientists! Read the rest of this entry »

RiverCulture: Another Success Story in the Western MA Arts Scene

Turners Falls Artscape Promotes A Diversity of Artistic Disciplines

Last month in our series spotlighting arts-based community organizations, we featured Easthampton City Arts+, which supports the community’s cultural identify. Across western Massachusetts, communities have become havens for artists of all kinds. The area is chock-full of painters, photographers, sculptors, potters, performers, and other creative types, their work saturating our communities with artistic expression in a wide variety of mediums. Connecting these artists and their work to the the rest of the community are arts organizations, which serve as valuable resources for connecting families with events and community-based learning opportunities.

This month, we highlight the work of Turners Falls RiverCulture, an organization combining art, history, and recreation to build connections between community members and the cultural learning opportunities that exist within Turners Falls. RiverCulture both creates community-based learning opportunities and serves as a vehicle for connecting the community with preexisting opportunities to access resources for learning about local arts and culture.  Read the rest of this entry »

The Art of Eric Carle: Bees, Butterflies, and Other Bugs

The Art of Eric Carle:
Bees, Butterflies, and Other Bugs

On View April 7 – August 30, 2015

Amateur entomology takes the spotlight at the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art during the next few months, as a new bug-themed exhibit fills the galleries! The Art of Eric Carle: Bees, Butterflies, and Other Bugs will be on view from April 7th – August 30th, 2015, and brings with it not only beautiful and delightful images featuring a host of insects, but a swarm of special bug-themed and Eric Carle-centric events as well.

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Sparked by copious amounts of time spent outdoors as a child, Eric Carle’s picture books have often featured lovable insect characters, from fireflies to ladybugs to the iconic starving green caterpillar. The images featured in the exhibit are full of wings, crawly legs, and stingers, but portray the crawliest of earth’s inhabitants beautifully, with respect, reverence, and the light, playful style unique to Carle’s artwork.

In addition to a bug-filled gallery, the Eric Carle Museum will hold special events to accompany the exhibit. Over the next few months, families can take advantage of opportunities to engage in bug-themed hands-on art making in the museum’s studio, and can create their own original bug creations to add to a community art project that will adorn the trees in the museum’s orchard. Additionally, special events featuring bug-themed storytelling and comedy will be held, and the museum’s Children’s Book Festival (held on June 6th) will be bug-themed as well!  Read the rest of this entry »

Hilltown Families on Mass Appeal: Vernal Pools

Hilltown Families on Mass Appeal: March Segment
Vernal Pools: Natural Habitats & Local Species as Community Resources

Hilltown Families and Mass Appeal (a weekday, hour-long lifestyle program on NBC) have teamed up to offer a live monthly segment on WWLP 22News!  Each month, Hilltown Families’ Founder & Executive Director, Sienna Wildfield,  joins Mass Appeal hosts, Ashley Kohl and Seth Stutman, to talk about ways to engage in your community while supporting the interests and education of your children (and yourselves!).

This monthly segment continued on Thursday, March 26, 2015, highlighting how local habitats and native species can be used as a catalyst for learning. Through the lens of Vernal Pools and the animals that depend on them for survival, Sienna shares three methods of engagement as a way to support interests and education via Vernal Pools:


Vernal Pools: Methods of Engagement that Support Community-Based Learning

When looking for community-based resources that support learning via the lens of vernal pools, consider nature center, conservation organizations and your local library.

Phenology-based activities coincide with the natural changing of our seasons (our ultimate accessible community-based educational resource) and are great catalysts for learning through community engagement. Maple syrup season, filled with delicious community activities and opportunities, is our most recent seasonal activity here in Western MA.  But can you name other seasonal events coming our way as winter transitions into spring? The one we want to highlight this month is Vernal Pools!

As the seasons transition and habitats and animals respond to the change in weather and climate, Vernal Pools begin to emerge and come to life based on the timing of this change and the relationship plants and animals have with their environment! Taking advantage of these changes and getting out into your community to participate in nature-based learning activities will support the development of skills and integrated learning in a wide variety of subjects.

Methods of engagement as they relate to Vernal Pools can include nature-based learning, service-based learning and citizen scientist, and the embedded learning families can extracted from these engagement opportunities can range from ecology to natural history, entomology to zoology, scientific process to art!

The following methods of engagement and events highlight these community-based resources and the embedded learning you can extract from participation: Read the rest of this entry »

Mixing Conservation with Art Releases Creativity

Junior Duck Program Motivates Kids to Study Nature with an Artistic Eye

Combining artistic expression and conservation, the annual Junior Duck Stamp Program gives children the opportunity to study local waterfowl and practice using their artistic skills to portray them in their native habitat. The competition even provides curriculum materials to support families and educators in expanding children’s learning as they participate!

Since the beginning of the 20th century, the commonwealth of Massachusetts has been a leader in the study of waterfowl species and their habitat. In keeping with this scientific tradition and commitment, children of almost any age are invited to participate in this year’s Massachusetts Junior Duck Stamp Program! An annual art contest that pairs the study of waterfowl with artistic expression, the Junior Duck Stamp Program provides a platform for learning about conservation, the environment, species identification, and artistic expression!

Open to children in grades K-12 (or of the age equivalent to grades K-12), participation in the Junior Duck Stamp Program requires young scientists and artists to create original pieces of artwork that showcase a species of waterfowl native to Massachusetts. Children may use visual aids in order to create their pieces, so as to ensure that the shape, size, coloration, and surroundings that they create are accurate, but all works of art should be entirely original, rather than drawn or painted as a copy of a photograph, drawing, or other representation of a bird. Read the rest of this entry »

Clark Lifts Lid on Major 20th Century Modernist Movement

Machine Age Modernism Exhibit At Clark Art Institute Captures Turmoil & Upheaval

Clark Art Institute’s Machine Age Modernism exhibition explores groundbreaking printmaking and offers community-based learning opportunity on art history. Exhibition opens February 28, 2015 in Williamstown, MA.

The Clark Art Institute considers the history and politics that inspired many artists working during and between World Wars I and II in the exhibition Machine Age Modernism: Prints from the Daniel Cowin Collection. Influenced by such prewar movements as Futurism and Cubism, and using innovative techniques developed by artists associated with London’s Grosvenor School of Modern Art in the 1930s and 1940s, artists of the Machine Age defied aesthetic and technical conventions in order to convey the vitality of industrial society and changed printmaking in the process. Machine Age Modernism will be on view in the Clark Center February 28–May 17, 2015.
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Building A Sharing Creative Community through Artist Trading Cards

Artist Trading Cards Promote the Spirit of Community

Does your family love to make and share art? Join ATCs for All in order to be part of an online community of artists, the purpose of which is to inspire creativity, and to collect and share artwork! Families can learn about the many different forms that art can take, while experimenting with new materials and connecting with other creative folks!

Following in the wake of Hilltown Families’ Annual Handmade Valentine Swap, the creative, collaborative, and community-building possibilities offered by ATCs for All share a common thread with Hilltown Families’ annual swap – the purpose of the organization is to make and share art with willing, eager, and inspired participants everywhere! ATCs for All (the ATCs being short for Artist Trading Cards) is a community-run group that utilizes a website in order to facilitate art sharing of all kinds!

Originally started in order to give creative folks a venue through which to share hand-crafted trading cards and mail art, ATCs for All now encompasses a wide variety of art forms, including (but not limited to!) stamping, painting, collage, fabric art, book-art, and altered art. While making and trading artist trading cards is still an important part of what ATCs for All offers, it’s not the only way to participate in art sharing!  Read the rest of this entry »

Elm’s College Exhibit Beautifully Illustrates African-American History

Rhythms of a Faithful Journey: Verses from Slavery to Presidency

African-American artist, educator, poet and author Robin Joyce Miller will present a slideshow and an exhibit of 14 mixed-media collage quilts at 7pm, Tuesday, February 3, 2015 in the Borgia Gallery at Elms College in Chicopee, MA.

The framed pieces in this exhibit are approximately 35″ x 46″. Twelve of them illustrate African-American history events or periods accompanying poetry from the book. Recitations of poems that accompany these works of art will be included in the presentation.

The slideshow, Restoring My African Soul, is a personal narrative of the journey to restoration and healing through faith, art, poetry and photography. Miller co-authored Rhythms of a Faithful Journey with her husband, James Walter Miller, who also will read some poems at the event.  Read the rest of this entry »

It’s a Snap! Exhibit in Easthampton Captures Time

Anonymous Snapshots Found by Collectors Encourage Cultural Voyeurism
Sunday, Feb 1 – Saturday, Feb 28, 2015

In today’s tech-saturated world, it’s safe to assume that virtually every single photograph we see was likely taken (and uploaded to the web) only moments prior. We are accustomed to receiving instant updates, we expect constant contact, and we require visual documentation of unlikely experiences. With all this focus on the present, how often do we take time to think about, or look at, the past? Both jaw-droppingly unlikely and seemingly mundane moments throughout American culture have been documented by amateur and professional photographers over time. But what makes a photo valuable as a cultural or historical document? How does one draw the line between “just another family photo” and a particularly special shot? (And why is it necessary to create a hierarchy of photographs?) Read the rest of this entry »

Google Cultural Institute: A Portal to the Cultural Treasures of the World

Web-based Resource Brings You Global Learning

National Museum of Geology and Museum of Romanian Peasant, Bucharest

The National Museum of the Romanian Peasant is one of the institutions that you can access through Google Cultural Institute, an in-depth web based learning resource.

Web-based learning just became more fascinating thanks to Google Cultural Institute! Providing an in-depth look at art, culture, architecture, history, etc. from all over the world, Google Cultural Institute provides endless educational opportunities and extensive information on each topic it covers. Explore the institute to see what fascinating cultural gems you can find!

In our parents’ childhoods, international travel would’ve been a requirement for learning about some of the world’s most beautiful and interesting cultural treasures. In order to tour a European art museum or an Asian architectural wonder, we would’ve needed to physically visit the actual location– meaning a strong commitment to learning about the particular place, as a visit would require hours of expensive travel before and afterwards.

Nowadays, however, the wonders of the world are easily accessible – thanks to Google Cultural Institute! A web-based resource providing in-depth, up-close-and-personal looks at the contents of museums and archives from all over the planet, Google Cultural Institute provides the richness of cultural treasures without the extensive travel. Offering opportunities to learn about everything from the collections of the National Museum of the Romanian Peasant to wartime memorials in Ireland, Google Cultural Institute provides incredibly extensive information, diagrams, and photographs about each subject, location, or artwork included in the institute.

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UMass Lowell’s Cool Science Contest

Power of Public Art Drives Critical Thinking in Community Based Learning

Public art is designed to make us think. Whether it’s about local history, traffic safety, or our cultural heritage, public artwork sends a message. Children have the opportunity to create public artwork to send a message about climate change by participating in UMass Lowell’s Cool Science contest! Young artists can learn about climate science and art with a purpose by creating entries, and winners might get to see their art made public. Entries are due by Dec 1, 2014.

Public art plays an important role in communities throughout western Massachusetts. Murals, sculptures, chalk drawings, and installations in public spaces help to share history, culture, and new ideas with everyone who sees them. Public art is, perhaps, the most accessible of all art forms – viewing does not require intentionality, it simply requires eyes to be open to the world. One of the best parts of public art is the power that it has to spread meaningful messages – to remind us to love one another, to make us think about how we treat public spaces, and to even make us look twice before crossing the street.

Currently, students have the opportunity to submit artwork into a public art contest. UMass Lowell’s annual Cool Science artwork competition asks students in grades K-12 (or homeschool equivalent) to create works of art inspired by their learning about climate change. Winners of the contest will have their artwork displayed on clean fuel-burning city buses in Lowell, providing young artists with the opportunity to have their message-sending masterpieces turned into mobile public art.  Read the rest of this entry »

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